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Essential running gear for women: Must-haves and nice-to-haves


If you’re looking to begin your running journey, then you may be wondering what gear and equipment you need to get started.

In this guide we’ll look at the must-have running gear for women.

The gear in this list is a combination of:

  • Comfortable and supportive clothing
  • Proper footwear
  • Accessories to keep you safe on a run

Of course, you don’t need every piece of gear on this list, but these items are certainly what have helped me during my 12 years of running.

Your choice of gear will vary based on individual preferences and specific running conditions.

My key bit of advice? Make sure to invest in quality items that provide the necessary comfort, support and safety for your running activities.

Are you ready?

Let’s get started!

running gear for women

Must-have running gear for women

#1 Running shoes

We couldn’t start this list with anything else but a decent pair of running shoes.

Invest in a pair of running shoes that support your feet and suit your running style.

Not all running shoes are made equal – there are various types based on:

  • Foot type (e.g. stability, motion control, neutral, minimal, maximal)
  • Surface needs (e.g. road, trail, track)

I recommend you get professionally fitted at a running store. This is a crucial step when finding the perfect pair!

#2 Proper sports bra

A high-quality sports bra with good support is crucial to prevent discomfort and injury during your runs.

Research found that your breasts move an average of 9cm (3.5 inches) during moderate exercise and can move up to 15cm (6 inches) during high intensity exercise.

So it’s important you wear a well-fitted, supportive sports bra when running.

The right sports bra should feel comfortable, fit properly and provide adequate support.

running gear for women

#3 Moisture wicking clothing

Choose moisture-wicking and breathable materials for your running tops, bottoms, and sports bras.

These fabrics help keep you dry and comfortable during your runs.

The key benefit of moisture wicking clothing is that it draws sweat to the exterior of the fabric, instead of absorbing it, where it then evaporates. 

Excess moisture can cause bacteria to grow, which could potentially lead to body odour and even infection in some areas of the body.

Consider fabrics like polyester, nylon and lycra.

There are also natural alternatives in the form of Merino wool, wool and bamboo.

#4 Layering options

Depending on the season, have appropriate layers, such as a lightweight jacket, to regulate your body temperature.

If in doubt, use the 3 layer system:

  • Base layer. This is the layer closest to your body and it aims to draw sweat away from your skin to keep you dry.  It should be lightweight, breathable and moisture-wicking.
  • Mid-layer. Worn over the base layer, this is what keeps you warm. This is typically a long-sleeved top.
  • Outer layer. The last layer adds warmth and protects you from the elements. This layer should be a water resistant or waterproof jacket or vest that protects against wind, rain and snow – or whatever Mother Nature throws at you!

#5 Reflective gear

For safety, wear reflective clothing or accessories if you run in low-light conditions or at night.

This includes reflective vests, jackets or accessories.

I personally like to wear the reflective running vest from Proviz as it fits easily over my running jacket in the winter months.

running gear for women

#6 Running socks

Invest in moisture-wicking, cushioned running socks to prevent blisters and keep your feet comfortable.

I cannot stress this enough if you are planning on running long distances.

Avoid socks made of 100% cotton as they tend to hold onto moisture.

Key features to look for in a pair of running socks are:

  • Seamless
  • Thickness
  • Compression
  • Extra padding (on the toes, heel and ball of the foot, for example)
  • Anti-blister technology
  • Odour-resistant

#7 Hat

Depending on the weather, consider a running hat or a moisture-wicking headband to keep sweat out of your eyes.

I personally enjoy wearing a running hat during the really cold winter months as I don’t like my head and ears to feel cold on my run.

#8 Sunglasses

Protect your eyes from the sun and wind with a good pair of running sunglasses.

I cannot bear to run without a pair of sunglasses in the summer months and indeed in the winter months on those cool, crisp days.

Goodr sunglasses offer a range of really cool running sunglasses if you don’t like the look of sports sunglasses.

running gear for women

#9 Foam roller

Incorporate foam rolling into your routine for post-run recovery and muscle maintenance.

In my opinion, a foam roller is a must-have because it helps massively to alleviate muscle soreness and stiffness after a hard workout or long run.

#10 Sunscreen

Protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays with a sweat-resistant sunscreen.

I am never without my sunscreen on my runs because I like to protect my skin from the sun on a day to day basis anyway.

#11 GPS running app

Download a running app on your smartphone to track your runs, set goals and stay motivated.

You don’t need an expensive running watch when you start your running journey, many running apps nowadays have all the latest features.

Tracking the progress you have made on each run is one of the best ways to stay motivated!

Related: 7 of the best websites to buy affordable running clothes

running gear for women

Nice-to-have running gear for women

#1 Compression gear

Compression leggings, shorts or socks provide support and reduce muscle fatigue during and after your runs.

The research to support the benefits of compression gear is limited, but I have certainly realised the benefits of compression technology over the years.

#2 Running watch

A GPS running watch can help you track your pace, distance, heart rate and other important metrics during your runs.

I recommend investing in a running watch once you have a few miles under your belt and as you look towards training for your first race.

The benefit of wearing a running watch over using a running app is that it has a wider range of features.

It’s also more practical to look at your running watch on a run as opposed to glancing at your phone every few minutes.

#3 Hydration accessories

Depending on your running distance, consider a hydration belt, handheld water bottle or hydration vest to stay properly hydrated.

A hydration belt or vest is by no means a must-have piece of gear.

However, if you’re training for a long distance event like a marathon or ultra-marathon, then I recommend you invest in a hydration vest.

running gear for women

#4 Running backpack

A running backpack is handy for carrying essentials like your phone, keys, ID and energy gels.

A good backpack will also hold larger items like clothing, shoes and your laptop (if you’re considering run commuting).

#5 Personal safety device

Consider carrying a personal safety device, like a whistle or a self-defense tool, if you plan to run alone in isolated areas.

I also recommend you take your phone with you on your run and always tell friends and relatives where you are going to be running.

#6 Earphones

Comfortable and sweat-resistant earphones or headphones can make your runs more enjoyable with music or podcasts.

If you lack motivation or want to spice up your runs, then listening to music or your favourite podcast on your run can help in many ways!

Just make sure you line up some of your favourite running songs before you run!

running gear for women

#7 Yoga mat

A yoga mat can be handy for pre-run stretching, post-run stretching and for performing strength and core workouts at home.

Yoga itself is a great form of cross training for runners.

#8 Dumbbells

A pair of dumbbells are great to have around the house for when you want to do a quick strength workout at home.

They are really versatile too and can make many bodyweight exercises that little bit harder by adding more resistance.

Strength training is essential for any runner looking to run strong.

Related: 5 best home gym equipment for runners

Caroline Geoghegan